Kingston's Nighttime Santa Claus Parade Kicks Off The Holiday Season

By Jason Manuge

Every year for the past decade there has been one event that’s ushered in the holiday season for Kingston residents: the Nighttime Santa Claus Parade.
On Saturday, November 23rd, Kingstonians lined both sides of Princess Street to watch as almost sixty floats made their way downtown in a seasonal procession of lights, sound, and colour. It was easy to tell from the smiling parents and children in the crowd that the Santa Claus parade is something that they look forward to watching every year.
Collapsible chairs lined the parade route, with many of them having been set up hours before the parade was even scheduled to begin. For some, the parade is an all-day event, complete with shopping, the exploration of the downtown core, and a hot meal prepared by one of the many restaurants in the area.
The Santa Claus parade is very much a family-friendly event: parents could be seen scurrying around in search of hot chocolate, and younger siblings could be seen dragging their older brothers or sisters around to try and secure the best vantage point for the floats. It was also a huge draw for many of Kingston’s college and university students.
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The floats and vehicles in the parade were all meticulously decorated. Some were wrapped almost completely with lights, while others had elaborate mechanical contraptions which brought them to life as they passed by amazed onlookers.
Cruickshank’s flatbed was adorned with two gingerbread figures and long strings of lights, while TD Bank’s old, red tractor was more traditional in appearance. The Food Bank had a well, lit float as well, complete with candy canes, Christmas trees, and presents.

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Cruickshank’s Gingerbread figures drew a lot of cheers from the crowd!

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The Kingston Food Bank was collecting donations throughout the parade.

While many local businesses had floats in the event, the City of Kingston certainly had a significant presence, too. Speaking with some of the onlookers it became apparent that one of the crowd favourites this year was the Kingston Transit bus that was decked out to look like the Polar Express. They even had elves who were handing out candy!
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Here’s Kingston Transit’s Polar Express, complete with an elf handing out candy.

Aside from all of the floats, there were also numerous dance troupes, cheerleaders, and performers. There were dancers, musicians, and even a group from the BMX club who were performing stunts.
One family suggested that the most exciting part of the parade was seeing groups of dogs from the Kingston Humane Society and the Agility on the River dog training club dressed up in miniature jackets, boots, and Christmas lights. It’s difficult to compete against something so adorable.
Kingston’s mayor, Mark Gerretsen, made an appearance early on in the parade accompanied by the Town Crier. He also had the privilege of lighting the city’s tree alongside Santa and Mrs. Claus later, to wrap up the evening in Springer Market Square.
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Mayor Mark Gerretsen and the town crier greet guests along the parade route.

Kingston’s Santa Claus Parade was a huge hit, providing something for everyone. If you haven’t been to one yet, it’s something to check out next year. This was my first parade, but it won’t be my last!